Regional media gains ground with advertisers

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media | March 28, 2011
At the concluding day of the FICCI Frames 2011, eminent panellists spoke of regional media and the formidable power it is gaining in media planning.

It is interesting to note that while most media spends for an average national advertiser is in the Hindi and English media, the actual consumption of media is much higher in regional markets. Furthermore, the propensity to spend is higher in regional markets.

The subject discussed at the concluding day of FICCI Frames 2011, held at the Renaissance Powai, in Mumbai, was the 'Resurgence of Regional Media'. Moderator Rajesh Jain, national industry director, KPMG, shared some insights on media consumption in the regional markets.

According to KPMG reports, the bang for the buck for the advertiser is maximum in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Regional channels constitute 33 per cent of the overall GEC share, which Jain pointed out, is an opportunity as these channels are growing at a comparatively faster rate than Hindi ones.

Another glaring truth is this: the regional market, in terms of advertising, is currently valued lower than the Hindi market, in spite of growth in advertising volumes over the past few years. Markets in Maharashtra, Bengal and in the South are the fastest growing regional markets.

An interesting trend noticed is that in the six strongest regional markets, namely, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, there is a strong command of regional players. And, the top two-three players command a market share, which is quite disproportionate to the rest.

Even when it comes to the print market, KPMG predicts that the vernacular print market will exceed the Hindi market by 2015 in terms of ad size, and will almost touch the English market. "The Times of India is the only English daily to be in the top 10 in terms of readership," Jain pointed out.

The panellists at the session included K Madhavan, managing director, Asianet, Jayant Mathew, director, Malayala Manorama, Sanjay Reddy, senior vice-president, Sun TV Network, and AP Parigi, advisor, Accel Animation Studios.

Madhavan spoke of the resurgence of middle class families in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. He pointed towards the statistics - the number of regional channels in the South alone has exceeded 120; there are 10 million DTH homes in the South. DTH is particularly helpful in rural areas and multiple television homes.

The time spent on watching television is two hours in regional markets, as opposed to three hours in metros. Clearly, regional markets are catching up.

"One of the key challenges for regional broadcasters is the heavy dependence on movie-driven GRPs, and the availability of good titles at a low cost becomes a problem," Madhavan mused. "Hence, enough local content generation is an area of concern for them," he said.

Sanjay Reddy stressed on the importance of having a bottom-up approach instead of a top-down one. "Every state should be treated like a country in itself," he said, further stating that the television market in Andhra Pradesh is growing steadily. He pointed towards an interesting trend: Serials from the South were being remade in Hindi for Hindi GECs. For instance, Pavitra Rishta on Zee is a remake of the Tamil show 'Thirumati Selvam'. "Regional is the new national," he said, concluding his talk.

Malayala Manorama's Jayant Mathew stated that the cultural identity of people in a state is best expressed in their local language. "What a regional player can do, a national player will perhaps find difficult," he mused.

Regional media offers an advantage of familiarity and comfort to local readers, as well as affordability and target group relevance when it comes to local advertisers. Regional newspapers, too, Mathew said, deliver better numbers to advertisers. Hopefully, regional players should command 60-70 per cent of the overall print ad pie in the next few years.

Mathew further added that from the perspective of the print media, one should feed a reader what affects him in his day-to-day life. "We believe that the more you localise, the more you grow, and the only way to know your regional consumer is through local understanding," Mathew said.

AP Parigi was the last panellist to take the microphone. According to him, when it comes to regional markets, 'local' is the word. Politics is local, food habits are local, music is local, and even media consumption is local. "The response to a melodramatic serial in the North versus one in the South is different," he shrugged. "India continues to be a caste-oriented society, and English is an aspirational language, which, at a subliminal level, gets equated with success," said Parigi.

Parigi also said that while English commanded an advertising premium over vernacular languages, the gap between the two seems to be reducing. "Factors such as self-esteem, pride, and the heritage of the audiences in regional markets are very language-driven," he said. "It is important to, in a natural manner, imbibe the local folklore in your content to increase viewership and readership," he said.

The panel concluded that if a national English or Hindi player enters a regional market, the element of aspiration is there, but if he wants to understand the soul of the market, he will have to localise. The panel further stated that the regional market is going beyond GECs, and news and dubbed content (if one talks of good quality content) has huge potential for growth.

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